Minister of Power Kanchana Wijesekera says he cannot support the proposed increase of electricity tariffs by 300% merely to pay the salaries of senior CEB officers and to purchase electricity from diesel-powered power plants. Speaking in Parliament, Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said they have been pushing to initiate renewable power generation projects since 2013.
The Minister said although multiple governments have attempted to push the projects through, certain unions are sabotaging such moves. He said certain senior engineers are vehemently opposed to the proposals to initiate renewable power generation projects.
The Power Minister said through such projects, Sri Lanka can be self-sufficient and by connecting the grid to India, the CEB will be able to export electricity. The Minister said he is determined to initiate the projects despite opposition by a small group of officials with vested interests.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera noted the proposal to increase electricity tariffs by 300% have been based on the loss of nearly Rs.500 billion. The Minister said annual CEB expenditure is around Rs.756 billion while it generates around Rs.250 in revenue.
He said the majority of expenses are due to salaries paid to senior officials and also due to electricity purchases made from diesel-powered power plants. The Minister said according to a CEB agreement, the salaries of senior engineers are increased by 25% once every three years.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera noted he as the subject Minister cannot let such expenses be borne by the public. The Minister said he will take all measures to amend the legislations and reduce costs. Minister Wijesekera said he will also hold discussions with trade union representatives and other stakeholders regarding renewable power generation plans.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera confirmed that amendments to the Sri Lanka Electricity Act, No.20 of 2009 will be tabled in Parliament tomorrow. Minister Wijesekera said the amendments are a timely requirement and will be tabled in order to take forward several programmes including renewable energy projects that are vital for the power sector going forward.